The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Archive for September, 2010

Feeling assailed by feminism

Posted by Mel Campbell on September 28, 2010

As part of the Wheeler Centre’s merry non-question “Feminism has failed”, the literary centre asked Michaela McGuire to write a piece on questioning whether she was a feminist.

Basically, McGuire’s contention was that she doesn’t want to give much consideration to feminism, because in the past she has felt assailed and alienated by other women who called themselves feminists.

“This was the reason, I realised, that feminism, at least as I had encountered it, does not seem relevant to me. It has rules. Qualifiers. Hundred-year-old mottos that I am meant to apply to my own life.”

On one level, I totally get where she’s coming from. Several times in the past I have offered my honest opinions about women and have been greeted by a backlash from feminists whose views I found ideologically rigid.

I stopped posting on my personal blog for nearly four months after various people weighed in on this post, suggesting that I clearly didn’t love my vagina enough. (I’ve since switched commenting systems, so none of the Vagina Luv comments are there any more.)

And I stopped blogging at The Dawn Chorus for nearly a year after feeling as though the entire feminist blogosphere had turned on me because of this (admittedly, mischievously titled) blog post.

But these responses never led me to the conclusion that I wasn’t a feminist.

Here’s how I define feminism. It’s the belief that nobody should be denied dignity, respect or opportunities – personal or professional, in public or at home, as a citizen or in relationships – solely because of their gender. If you believe this, and you don’t like seeing people disrespected or disempowered because of their gender, you’re a feminist. That’s it. That’s the only rule. The only qualifier.

Most of all, feminism is not about consensus. Feminism is a personal commitment, and it’s worth pursuing even though individual feminists, and groups of feminists, may have vastly differing beliefs and engage in robust debate. Put it this way: men are not deterred from having convictions simply because not all men agree with each other.

I’ve felt assailed by feminists. I’ve felt personally attacked. I’ve felt crushed. I’ve felt ignored. But I have never abandoned my conviction that I am a feminist, or become less willing to point out and condemn gender-based inequity as I see it.

Posted in Blog Watch, Media Watch | 16 Comments »

Feminism Has Failed, not really, however, it will be debated tomorrow night

Posted by Rhiana Whitson on September 21, 2010

Don’t miss this event!

Tomorrow night! 6.30pm!

Feminism Has Failed

part of the Wheeler Centre’s Intelligence Squared debate series…

Featuring:

Author of The Feminist Denial Monica Dux, ABC journo Jennifer Byrne, journo Gay Alcorn and a few guys also…

I’ve gotta run, however, here’s what the Wheeler Centre has to say about tomorrow nights event…

After generations of effort, women still bear a disproportionate burden of domestic labour. Women are under-represented in the senior ranks of politics, business and the professions.

Women continue to be denied equal pay for equal work.

Perhaps more troubling still is the fact that the basic structures of power and influence bear the cultural marks of masculinity. In all significant ways, it remains a man’s world.

However, it could be argued that If feminism has failed, then it is because it has failed to mobilise women and that female acquiescence rather than male determination has preserved the status quo.

Or should feminists be celebrating a deeper victory in which a new generation of young men and women take equality for granted thanks to feminists who ushered in a deeper concern for justice – irrespective of gender?

Want more info? Check our Clem’s great interview with Monica Dux and Zora Simic posted here on TDC way back in 2008…

When?

Tomorrow night 6.30 – 8.30pm

Where?

Melbourne Town Hall

90-120 Swanston Street
Melbourne
Victoria 3000

Tix are  $20 full and $12 conc.

and are available online

Posted in Dawn Chorus Library, Interviews, Politics, reproductive rights, sex, Uncategorized, women we love, Women's Health | 2 Comments »

Street Harassment: tone vs content

Posted by Mel Campbell on September 8, 2010

Last week I read this excellent post on street harassment, which was republished in Jezebel.

Street harassment is not the same as offering compliments to strangers. It is an aggressive move to assert power over a woman in public space, to force her to interact with him, and to make her feel cowed and embarrassed. If confronted or rejected, street harassers often escalate their approach into a verbal assault on their victim’s attractiveness or sexuality.

Perhaps the worst part of street harassment is that our culture has internalised it to the point where women are accused of ‘overreacting’, being ‘humourless’ or ‘imagining it’ if they speak up about being harassed in public. Yet women who manage to escape harassment can feel ugly and unsexy, and that they ought to feel ‘grateful’ if it does happen to them.

Tonight, I was walking down Lygon Street in East Brunswick and a guy shouted at me from a passing car, “YOU’RE A BEAUTIFUL PERSON!”

It might sound comical – was the dude trying to evade feminist criticism by focusing on the beauty of my personality rather than my body? Yet how can this stranger possibly know what kind of person I am?

But at the same time, I wish I could communicate to you the tone of menace in this guy’s voice.

You’ve probably encountered the idea that online writing is flatter and less subtle than spoken communication, and thus more prone to misunderstanding and offence. Likewise, when women report being harassed or assaulted, and what is said between victim and perpetrator is brought up in official complaints and court cases, this tone of voice can be lost.

Sadly, I imagine many readers have experienced the aggression and venom that certain men are able to inject into words such as ‘slut’, ‘bitch’ and ‘cunt’. It’s a tone that can make the listener fear for her physical safety.

Even more innocuously expressed sentiments can sound far more intimidating to a victim than they might seem to a third party. Perhaps that’s why street harassment is often dismissed or belittled.

Posted in violence against women | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Matthew Newton: He did it again

Posted by Rhiana Whitson on September 5, 2010

Matthew Newton has committed domestic violence. He is a criminal and needs to go to prison.
Matthew Newton is a drug addict and mentally ill. He needs our pity and our help.

I’m no psychiatrist, but I do know this:

However, troubled or drug addled Matthew Newton may be,  he’s committed a serious crime, and it’s not his first offense.

As we wait to see whether Newton will be held accountable for his latest actions, we should ask ourselves why a man who just three years ago went to court over a similar incident was allowed to re-offend, and, why he was allowed to grace our television screens.

Even before this latest incident, It’s been a sorry decline for Matthew Newton.

Not that Channel Seven seemed to mind. After checking himself out of rehab earlier this year, Channel Seven offered Newton a $200, 000 contract to host their brand new reality-TV series, The X-Factor.

How quickly the commercial networks forget!

The question posed by Media Watch is this: why was Newton offered the job in the first place?

Or indeed, any other acting jobs following his court appearance in 2007?

(If you haven’t already, make sure you watch this episode – it just confirms how lucky we are that journalism like this still exists to keep the mainstream media accountable, especially in the current climate of horse-race journalism)

Just in case you’re as forgetful as Channel Seven, here’s a refresher: in 2007 Newton was charged with two counts of common assault, one count of stalk/intimidate with the intent of causing physical/mental harm and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. According to media reports at the time, the catalyst for Brooke Satchwell to bravely speak out, occurred after she was repeatedly punched  in the head by Newton whilst she yelled for him to stop.

Um, Channel Seven, is this really the type of guy you want to host your network’s answer to Australian Idol?

Unfortunately, Channel Seven clearly held the same opinion as Newton’s star struck appeal judge.

What should have been an open and closed case, rather strangely (or perhaps not, considering Newton’s connections) ended with Newton walking away innocent man.

Newton’s lenient 12-month good behavior bond was quashed by a Sydney judge on appeal.

According to News.com.au the judge considered Newton an “utmost gentleman” who had committed the offense because of severe depression.

Apparently he was unlikely to re-offend.

The justice system’s handling of this case was another slap in the face for Australian women: the career of a well connected actor is more important than your right to safety.

At the time of the charges a number of recognisable faces sprang to Newton’s defense, offering character references for what they saw as an unfairly targeted Newton.

At the time of the court hearing, Newton was dating Gracie Otto, Barry Otto’s then 19-year old daughter.

Barry Otto:

“Matthew is a great friend and a great person. I don’t understand why people are trying to destroy his reputation with this sort of stuff,”

Sue Hill, mother of Gracie, wife of Barry:

“Matthew is the sweetest, nicest person in the world. He would never hurt a flea”.
“He would be absolutely devastated about all this becoming public.”

(How about the devastation Satchwell endured through firstly, the incident(s) itself,  facing the public with her allegations, and finally dealing with the miscarriage of justice performed by a  judge who rendered her abuser innocent)

The Otto’s must be eating their words now.

It certainly didn’t take the commercial networks very long to become convinced of Newton’s supposed innocence either.

Although, you’d think that even despite an overturned conviction, an actor who’s name had become synonymous with domestic violence would be enough to keep the commercial networks away…

As the saying goes, any publicity is good publicity – and with that, Newton’s career was resurrected to play the role of Terry Clark in Channel Nine’s Underbelly.

To tidy Newton’s image up, although as Media Watch pointed out, the role was rather apt,  News Ltd. got to work on some cross promotion last year with this hard-hitting piece of journalism.

It’s good to see Newton doing what he does best — acting. It’s easy to forget, amid the swirling controversy of the past couple of years, what a good actor he is.

Yes, indeed, great actor. The Hun’s Erin McWhirter sure fell for the shameless PR coordinated by the Herald Sun and Channel Nine.

Contemplating his life in the past two years has brought Newton some sense of inner peace. He hints that turning 30 has played a major part in turning things around.

‘‘Mistakes of your 20s, professionally or whatever, you just come into your own a little bit in your sense of understanding, ” Newton said.

Newton’s reintegration into commercial television was a success, so much so, Channel Seven chose to ignore a couple of tense moments between Rachel and Newton earlier this year and a stint in rehab when it decided they wanted him on board to host X-Factor.

Following Seven’s announcement, another bout of cross-promotion ensued, handy seeing as many Australian’s are unaware that mainstream media is pretty much completely owned by a couple of key players.

“My New Start”

“A changed man
. Putting the past behind him…
…a refreshingly honest interview…

— New Idea, 9th August, 2010”
(as cited on Media Watch website)

Today Tonight were keen to get in on the action also.

Matt White: You haven’t been boring, have you?

Matthew Newton: No, no… I’ve just always done my thing.

— Channel Seven, Today Tonight, 2nd August, 2010
(as cited on Media Watch website)

Why the soft treatment? Vested interests of course. Today Tonight, on Channel Seven. Who publish New Idea? Why,  Pacific Magazines, of course. And who are they? Why, they’re apart of the Seven Media Group.

Fair enough when you consider Channel Seven spent 22 million dollars to buy the rights for it.

But how’s the media treating Newton now? Surely he’s not going to get the soft treatment again?

Think again.

The lack of focus on domestic violence in the media since breaking news of Rome, has recast Newton as mentally ill. Apparently Newton has a series of problems stemming from his childhood spent growing up in the limelight. It’s all a bit ‘poor Matthew.’

A source quoted on the Herald Sun online even went as far as this:

“He’s just got that typical tortured artist’s mind.”

Oh god, really?

To summarise, I’d like to quote Neil (not in relation to ACA, but appropriate nonetheless) who left this comment on the Media Watch website last week:

Wonderful how the vested-interest media are turning “Matthew” into a victim here. “Matthew” now has a mental health issue and “We” in this country are not doing enough to help people with mental health issues. Cleverly, we’re now partly to blame for this maggot’s tanties.

Indeed:

‘Schizophrenia’ fears for Matthew Newton

UPDATE 12:49pm: TROUBLED actor Matthew Newton is suffering schizophrenia-like symptoms from dangerous use of hard drugs such as ice.
Newton, 33, who is undergoing treatment at Sydney’s Northside West Clinic, has been dumped by leading acting agency RGM, which represents Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne and Anthony LaPaglia.
It tops off a week in which Newton was sacked from the TV show The X Factor and dropped by his manager, Titus Day.
Newton is understood to have been taking a cocktail of ice, marijuana and cocaine.
His drug use was known to his family and to some senior employees at the Seven Network, when it hired him.

Absent from this update is any mention of the incident which sparked Newton being dropped from by his management. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
Because of this omission, I guess it’s no wonder Daryl posted this at the bottom of the article:

Daryl Posted at 4:47 AM August 30, 2010
Matt has taken a brave step forward and is getting treatment, good on him. As a sufferer of depression for many years myself, it’s not easy to admit to a problem and to seek help. Don’t give up Matt, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Channel Nine, aired this interview with Bert and Patti Newton.

I’m certainly not criticising Patti or Bert for sticking up for their son, after all they’re just being parents. Yet we should not let their parental defense cloud our view of what Newton has done, and therefore deride the seriousness of what happened to Rachel Taylor, Brooke Satchwell and other victims of domestic violence.

Yet, it seems ACA did exactly just that.
At the end of ACA Tracy Grimshaw says this:

We urge anyone suffering from mental illness or depression to call beyondblue or lifeline.

Absent from this is any mention of how women affected by domestic violence can get help.
Again, Bert is under contract with Channel Nine, so perhaps this is why Grimshaw gave the issue the soft touch, and after all, we can’t blame them for their sons behavior. However, regardless of the reasons, ACA is doing their female viewers a disservice by ignoring the issue of domestic violence.

Too many women die each year as a result of domestic violence. I’m hoping that this time around, we’re going to see justice served for Rachel Taylor and Brooke Satchwell (who must be observing the current events with sadness and anger – she knew the seedy underbelly of this “utmost gentleman” all along).
Like all men who abuse their partners, Matthew Newton should be held accountable for his  actions.

Because really, how many women does a man need to assault before he’s convicted and his celebrity career is over?



Posted in Celebrity, domestic violence, Family, Film & Television, Media Watch, Relationships, Sex And Love, Uncategorized, violence against women, Women's Health | 9 Comments »

The Twenty-Eighth Down Under Feminists Carnival

Posted by caitlinate on September 4, 2010

Oh my gawd, hi everyone. So this is the first time I’ve done a blog carnival and I put my hand up for it 6 months ago not realising that this was going to be like the busiest two or three weeks I would be having all year. So! There is no theme and things might be organised a little incoherently but I hope I’ve done a good job and you like…

WELCOME to the 28th Down Under Feminists Carnival!

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Announcements, Blog Watch, body image, domestic violence, Family, glbt, Interviews, law, Media Watch, music, Politics, porn, Relationships, reproductive rights, sex, Trans, violence against women, women we love, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

 
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